by Stal Herz - 03/31/2006
Unlike many of the other Majors out there, the Masters is a game of skill and mental strength - not of big boomers and drivers. This is why Tiger Woods dominates the event every year. The consummate golfer will always prevail here, for the ghosts of past champions make sure that royalty is spread only on the elite of the game.
The Masters offers bettors the chance to make a big return off of their dollar, all the while entertaining us with a four-day event that provides a smooth comedown from the high of March Madness. It's a long mellow after a hard night.
Here's a look at some of the players and their odds with some 2006 Masters picks.
Tiger Woods 2/1
What can you say? He has four wins already and seems to be keying in on a fifth. Rumors of family problems have not seemed to hurt his stock in Vegas and at offshore sportsbooks, which just goes to show what a professional this man is. Last year he won two Majors and finished second and tied for fourth in the others. He is focused and armed with a lethal long drive that he's been working on since they started expanding the course because of his domination. Tiger seems to get a greater satisfaction winning here than in any other event, and that may very well have to do with the statement it makes about the exclusionary nature of the club. His comments, like Tiger himself, are understated but viciously effective. He should win again.
Phil Mickelson 9/1
With Lefty, it all depends on how much he focuses on the game at hand instead of the back room drinking sessions for the Good 'Ol Boys down in Georgia. That could be one reason that Woods does so well in these events. With top 10 finishes in every Masters since 1999, and winning it outright two years ago, at 9/1 Phil is a nice pick to sport some new gear for a new season. However, the fact is he could end up at No. 66 as he did in last year's British Open or at No. 33 in the U.S. Open. You never know what you're going to get, which is why his odds are so juicy.
Ernie Els 9/1
Els won three tournaments in 2005 and took home the Dunhill Championship earlier this year. Having won three majors in his career but never a Masters, this might be the time when the man with 11 career tour wins sneaks in to win one for the ages. If you look at his career in Masters play, you can see he is creeping higher and higher towards the top of the leader board, coming close with a tie for second in 2004. If you like to spread money around the board and want to drop a few on a good long shot, Els might be in the perfect place in his career for a win here.
Vijay Singh 11/1
At these odds, you have to take a good look at Singh. Having already won the Masters in 1998 and 2000, the man who finished in the top 10 for the 2006 U.S. Open, British Open, PGA Championship and Masters, is ready to establish himself as a legend. If he can win for a third time, the stories will start to come out about how he never got his due as a trailblazer for minorities in sports. In an age before Tiger Woods was getting million dollar endorsement deals, Vijay Sing paid his way with his talent, which has only grown over the years. Watch out for this man in Augusta. He's hungry.
Retief Goosen 15/1
At age 15, Goosen was struck by lightning. This is true. Does it have anything to do with this year's Masters? Well, you can now tell your friends something when the 36-year-old South African appears on the screen. The two-time U.S. Open champion finished tied for third at last year's Augusta Clam Blake and was second at the 2002 affair. Physically, Goosen has had the lightning jolt running through him during his pro career, and has steadily been climbing up the rankings. One might think that the name Goosen is costing him millions in advertising dollars alone, and might even keep people from believing.
Chris DiMarco 30/1
He went into a play-off with Tiger last year and had to settle for being a footnote in history. However, DiMarco was in the top ten for the first time last year and seems ready to make a push. His experience last year will only help prepare him for the pressure this time around. This guy fought his way onto the tour by playing in the amateur circuit for longer than many on the Tour.
Charles Howell III 100/1
Yes, he's never won a PGA title and, in fact, has only ever won once in his professional career (the Michelob Championship at Kingsmill). So why would you want to put anything on a 100/1 shot? Well, what if his hometown was Agusta, Georgia? That's right. He grew up practicing on the greens everyone will be sweating over. If there was ever a stage for this kid to break out on, it's the Masters.
KJ Choi 100/1
So you see this guy on the course and you think - how does he posses so much power? The secret may lay in the fact that Choi was a power lifter as a teenager who consistently squatted well over 350 pounds. He is currently in the top 30 of the world rankings, and seems like he could break out of nowhere. This one is just a hunch, but a win in last year's Chrysler Classic in Greensborough for his second PGA win might have him set for a big "Out of Nowhere Victory."
For a complete list of Masters Odds, check out Doc's recommended sports books.